Joe Biden set to lift travel ban to Africa amid Omicron surge – ‘Existing vaccines work’

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However, from December 31 at 12.01 am East Coast time non -US citizens who have recently been in any of the eight countries will be allowed to board US bound flights.

White House spokesman Kevin Munoz said on Twitter the decision to introduce the restrictions was recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Munoz emphasised that the restrictions were a precautionary measure, and it was now known that the existing vaccines work against Omicron.

He said: “The restrictions gave us time to understand Omicron and we know our existing vaccines work against Omicron, esp boosted.”

There were earlier reports US public health officials had already recommended lifting the travel restrictions.

They argued retaining the travel bans would not have a significant impact on US cases given transmission is across the country.

Officials are now confident a specific Omicron-specific vaccine would not be necessary.

Data is also now available which shows existing vaccines and booster shots are highly effective against Omicron. 

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They said: “This was not meant to keep Omicron out. We knew we couldn’t do that. The point was to reduce the number of cases coming in – in those early days and weeks.”



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